A Tribute To The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds – YYY (reviewed by Thomas Haynes)

Step into a swirling, warping re-imagining of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds constructed with analog synths, glitchy vocal effects, trip hop beats, and kitten samples… plentiful kitten samples.

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I was a tad apprehensive about listening to a full LP re-interpretation of one of my favourite albums, but I’m not sure why, as I happily listen away to The Flamings Lips covering the entirety of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. I guess it is because YYY (multi-dimensional songwriter/producer Austin Carson) was an unknown to me, but why should such a thing dictate what my ears wish to listen to? It’s a good thing I don’t, really, as my ears love this!

 

I’m not sure how you pronounce YYY, so I’m going with saying ‘Y’ three times. You can say it how you like.

Starting life as a little musical experiment only one song was planned, but this soon beach balled (see what I did?) into a project that included many of Austin’s musical friends including rappers P.O.S and deM atlaS to dream pop duo Fort Wilson; who provide a beautiful set of harmonies for the technically-not-on-the-original-album-but-what-the-hell ‘Good Vibrations’. If you can imagine The Magic Numbers having a crack at this iconic Beach Boys track with Hot Chip providing the music, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

This is the YYY’s first release and was recorded and produced in Austin’s home studio, ‘The Aqua Dungeon’. Found sounds are slotted and warped into all sorts of interesting places. I’ve heard some nice chilled waves and cats (quite a few cats) car horns and fireworks.

While Austin does a tremendous job at mimicking Brian Wilson’s melancholy cries, the album is illuminated by plenty of additional vocals. The female vocalists really do add something refreshing to this album, particularly on ‘Still Believe In Me’ ‘Don’t Talk’ and ‘I’m Waiting for the Day’.

‘Waiting for the Day’ also includes some glorious scream samples buried between the chorus and verses.

Also listen out for laughter, coughing fits and timing checks all distorted and slammed through various glitch machines.

‘Sloop John B’, one of my favourite songs, includes a slow throbbing synth bass, which gives way to a delicate acoustic guitar and closes with a max-fuzz guitar. Amazing!

Everyone’s favourite, recently destroyed by the BBC tune*, ‘God Only Knows’ kicks off with a question about cat sleeping tactics and shows plenty of reverence for the delicateness of the original, and draws out with a harmonica and acoustic guitar.

‘Hang On To Your Ego’ includes Caribbean drum samples and a deep bass wobbling around beneath the tender vocals.

Drums across the album include live sets and some nice drum machines and tasty trip hop beats (Just check out ‘Let’s Go Away for Awhile’ for some true trip hop beauty).

 

This is a very confident and entertaining re-interpretation of Pet Sounds, which is a lot of fun to listen to and sounds like it was even more fun to make and is a much more enjoyable listen than The Flaming Lips recent efforts at album covers.

I’m looking forward to hearing what Austin and his little cat army create next!

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*I never once mentioned Dave Grohl sitting on a f**cking cloud!

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About Grasslands

Tom Haynes is based in Swindon, Wiltshire (UK) and works in Newbury (Berkshire). Tom is a full-time professional ecologist (wildlife surveyor and researcher), drone pilot and Managing Director of a nature conservation consultancy. He has spent the past few years surveying the UK coastline while also being involved in various other wildlife projects across the UK and Europe. In his spare time Tom records music as 'Grasslands' and as part of the electronic band 'No Side Effects'. Tom is also a fiction writer and is a member of various writing groups. In addition, Tom is a keen model maker and builds models and commissions as GrasslandsModels Websites: Grasslands Music: www.Grasslands.bandcamp.com No Side Effects Music: www.NoSideEffectsMusic.com NatureBureau: http://www.naturebureau.co.uk Grasslands Models: www.GrasslandsModels.wordpress.com
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